The Importance of the Novel “Between the World and Me”

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The book-length letter, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a biography and an autobiography that is written to his son explaining to him what it means and what was it like to be a black man in America. He tells his son his personal experiences as a black man who lived in a country, America, that was built on the oppression of black people. Coates writes about living in the ghettos of Baltimore and how it was a struggle for his family to survive in the area because they grew up poor, marginalized, and desperate to have stable humanity. Coates describes America’s history as being the destruction of the black body where African Americans were in a series of historic events from the battles of the Civil War to Jim Crow laws, police brutality, racial profiling, and the idea or belief of “the Dream”. He knows that himself and his son grown up differently as being African Americans and their experiences are different from each others in a country where race is still a conflict.

There is only historical evidence about what it tells us and how we would interpret it from the original evidence has told us. This means that were aren’t unchangeable facts on the idea of race. Everybody has a different perspective on race in which they interpret it in different ways of having foreigners or in this case black people. Over time, when the evidence has new data from history it, the person can interpret right at that exact moment, it could make a big change or just by a little bit. The way we look at history is the idea when accepting the way it was written out as if it was new evidence of various events throughout history.

To what Coates has written to his son about him only knowing some black people who were “powerfully, adamantly, dangerously afraid” shows his fear from expanding his boundaries towards other people meaning being friendly the whites, which was a real conflict towards blacks. Fear was the primary feeling and emotion that is described in the book and how most black people felt because of how white people would treat them and there would be a lot of violence involved. He wanted to let his son know that if he tries to make friends with other people from his race, then he has to be careful who to be friends with and what to say to them. Anything from that period could have been judged even if it’s just a single word, it’ll still be criticism from another person or people.

Coates chose these two literacy texts is because writing a letter is the form of communication in which are confidential. They tell readers why are they writing to them and why is it important to them. It also includes significant points that are supported by factual information that the reader needs to know. In addition, it’s the way how they wanted their readers to do in action and what the author would do for them in return. He wants to achieve what he has written to his son about what he needs to know in the life of a black man if there is ever a situation that he encounters on his own. The intimacy of the address from a father to his son is showing a connection that the father cares about his son’s protection.

The relatable reading resonates that connects with me is how I grew up as a child. I had a very different childhood than what other children had experienced from growing up. I was born from a foreign country and was adopted at 10 months along with my sibling by our parents. Since I was young, I don’t remember most of the memories from being 5-6 years old and younger only seeing photos that my mom took. Mostly my life was an equal balance of living overseas and living in America. This gave my family an opportunity to travel most of the countries on the other side of the world that no one I knew could experience it like what I had. I didn’t understand the concept at first from a young age as to why were we living in a foreign country and not living in the states. People say I am a lucky person to have lived overseas because I got the opportunity to tour other countries outside of the state in which other people didn’t have the money to do that. But on the other hand, I think that living overseas had some opportunities that I’ve missed from living in America but in the same way I got to experience something different in my life that I can talk to my kids in the future and share stories and crazy adventures with them.

The belief that affects his outlook on racial progress is how he introduced the idea of basic values, beliefs, and habits of citizens where racism is present that impacts the broad spectrum of institutional racism. Coates showed his anger and frustration while being targeted as a black man in which still shows that many African Americans are still targeted in American til this day and hasn’t stopped. There are still racial divisions in neighborhoods and cities that still affected people's’ lives who are living in the same country.

I believe Coates had explore several themes in his book with race, fear, father-son relationships, etc. Most writers would feel uncomfortable writing these topics because they are afraid about who would read it and what is their opinion on the topics. This gave Coates the opportunity to express himself as a black man and because he wrote this as a father-son letter, he made room to have a conversation with his son

Coates’ only written to his son about the view of a black man is because it explores his personal experience with fear and showing his roots of his African American body but not his existence of being a black man. He writes to his son this because of his legacy for his family and their history, which shows his struggles and obstacles that can help him have a life in America. Coates demonstrates of how being a black man struggles through physical harm and abusive language can conquer someone’s ability to have control and the process of destroying someone’s appearance. In addition, Coates attempts to show his argument of how society’s understanding of race is the safety for the idea of “whiteness”, meaning that the definition of whiteness shows the new people of skin color is the modern example of the invention of race. The new people with the white skin color is in connection of religious people who are Catholic, Jewish, Mennonite, etc, weren’t called white before the term was developed.

Coates explains joy and the meaning of love in the section where he discovers of what is the meaning of being black with more experiences. He attends Howard University to get more knowledge of the cultures of black people with a new perspective. Coates learned from black people not just from America, but around the world who had the black skin color and were born in a different foreign country. He also learned many ways of being black, the feeling of being black, and how he grew up of being black in Baltimore. I think that Between the World and Me does not leave hope for race relations in America because there other texts and literacy that also explores racial relations, so it could adapt to the concept of the representation of black people. If there would be a great collection of updated information on race relations that could affect the real world into thinking that black people aren’t as bad as white people say they are.I think the “hope” Coates was trying to say to the readers is the way of how black people will be stopped being judged by other races just because they have a different skin color. Even though, racism is still happening in this world today, we can conclude that there will be a time in history that everyone in the world will accept each other no matter race, gender, ethnicity. We all are the same human species that has developed differently in lives.

In conclusion, racism has been a part of American history for a long time that many few white people have racist comments on other skin colors. This is known to be a global issue due to the encouragement of fear and hatred towards other skin colors from around the world. In effect, immigrants have the hardest time living in other foreign countries because of how the origin people view them. They only depend on each other as a community because they would have to deal with the racist comments as a whole and also using the phrase “sticking with their own kind.” Racism shouldn’t be an issue that isn’t necessary to debate on because it shows the identification or the cultural background of people. Everyone in this unique in their own skin color no matter what country they are from, they are still human.

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The importance of the novel "Between The World And Me". (2020, Apr 03). Retrieved July 12, 2024 , from

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